LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is wielding his considerable wealth to combat the Trump administration by donating what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars to different liberal candidates and causes.
Hoffman described the motivations behind his rampant political activism in an interview with Recode published Tuesday.
“I got past my dismay in November, and in December, started thinking about my responsibility as a citizen,” Hoffman told Recode. “I tend to think when you’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to make some money, you have a position of power, it’s like Spider-Man ethics — with power comes responsibility.”
Hoffman launched “Trumped Up Cards,” in the fall of 2016. The card game, designed to highlight the apparent absurdity of President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, marked the beginning of Hoffman’s opposition to Trump. That initial spark of activism has ballooned into a dense network of political contributions designed to stymie Trump’s agenda and ensure Democratic success in the coming elections.
Hoffman, currently worth roughly $3 billion, is marshaling his resources to lead a progressive resurgence, leading many, including some of his personal friends, to crown him the liberal equivalent of the Koch Brothers, despite his strenuous objection to the comparison.
While a number of self made Silicon Valley leaders have been politically vocal, especially during trump’s time in office, Hoffman has set himself apart through the breadth of causes he supports and the time and money he’s committed.
“I’ve seen him spend a huge amount of his mental cycles and time on politically related activities, from helping start new groups to [backing] candidates … and really trying to be thoughtful about how he can contribute to the resistance,” Sam Altman, the politically active president of Y Combinator, told Recode. “A lot of people are talking about this, but they haven’t been allocating their time and money in the way [Hoffman] has.”
Hoffman has spent $76,000 on federal level races since January 2017, making the maximum allowed contribution to six Democratic senators including North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey. He has not totally excluded Republicans in his 2017 campaign contributions, donating $10,000 to Massachusetts Republicans.
Hoffman has a new found focus on Virginia, spending millions to influence state and federal elections this year in order to use the state as a proving ground to test the viability of certain political approaches. Hoffman recently donated $50,000 to Win Virginia, a political-action committee run by former Congressman Tom Perriello. The billionaire has also contributed a combined 1.4 million donated to Vote.org and Democracy Works which are dedicated to increasing voter turnout.
In addition to the numerous external donations, Hoffman has poured considerable resources into “Win the Future,” an organization he founded with cofounder Zyngus Mark Pincus, to help the Democratic party reformulate their platform for 2020. With a focus on narrowing ideological divide between rural and urban dwelling Americans, Hoffman recently backed Van Jones’ “The Dream Corps.”
Hoffman expressed some concern that his colleagues in the Silicon Valley donor class have not yet internalized the lessons of the 2016 campaign, something he hopes to counter by donating groups working on creative solutions to issues of inequality and class division.
“I think they’ve learned a number of things; I don’t know if I’d quite characterize them as lessons yet,” Hoffman said. “I think they’ve learned there’s a bunch of the swath of the country that’s in pain.”
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